Sunday, April 29, 2012

A Day of Competing

Michael Rosedale displaying his medals

A Day of Competing 

As the winding and mountainous roads of West Virginia were vacuumed beneath the hood of the silver car, a sign slowly drifted towards the front windshield that read, “Welcome to Hampshire County, West Virginia’s Oldest County.” Hampshire High, which is located it Romney, West Virginia held its annual Special Olympics out on Rannells Field on April 26th in order to give special needs individuals a chance to compete in athletic competitions.
            As large groups of people made their way down to the track and into the stands an announcer from inside the booth began making announcements for the first completion that was to take place. First up was the men and women’s 400-meter dash.  Handfuls of people of all ages were lined up at the starting line and with a quick hand motion were running full speed around the track. Some of the other competitions included long and short distance walking, long jumping, and a softball throwing. Even though the day started out as a dreary and overcast day, it wasn’t long before the sun broke through the clouds and made it the perfect temperature for an entire day of competitions.
            Along with the actual competition there were also a number of activities for other kids to participate in even if they weren’t competing. One station that was set up had a see saw that the kids would stomp on to launch a beanbag into a bucket of water and another one was a wood cutout of a catcher with a hole in it, so that kids could try to get softballs through the hole. There was even a concession stand set up with free hotdogs and drinks for people who were participating in any of the events. Needless to say, the hotdogs were a hot commodity.
             One of the biggest accomplishments of the Hampshire Special Olympics is that they focus not on who wins but rather having fun while also being able to compete. When asked what is important for people to know about the Special Olympics, Erin Cheshire-Jenkins, who works with the Hampshire County Special Services Center answered, “Regardless of physical limitations everyone deserves the same opportunities to succeed.” The competitors in the Special Olympics train all year in order to participate in their particular event so it is an incredibly big deal for each person to be able to participate.
            Overall there are a total of 10 different schools and organizations that come together in order to make this event happen. Each of the organizations brings a different set of contestants to the table, but everybody ends up competing in friendly competitions together in order to create a closer community. Having proudly won two gold medals, Michael Rosedale, a contestant in the Special Olympics states, “ It’s not about winning. It’s about having fun.”

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Focus Frostburg

On Wednesday, April 18, 2012, here at Frostburg State University was the annual Focus Frostburg. The events took place at the times of 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Focus Frostburg is the annual day of learning on sustainability and climate awareness that is free and open to Frostburg State University students, faculty, staff and the community. At Focus Frostburg, there were many presentations to help with the learning process of this day. Most of the elements were taken place in the Lane Center. It’s a very great thing to see many people involved on campus at Frostburg State University on this Annual day of the year.

One of the events that took place of the Focus Frostburg day was “Sociology of the Environment Poster Presentations.” The students from Sociology 345 of the Environment give presentations on their projects addressing the issues of environmental justice, sustainability and the rights and beauty of nature. One of the topics that caught my eye was the presentation of “The Plastics” by Melissa Wagner and Varnesha Webb. Melissa Wagner gave the presentation. She stated that the overall basis of the project is “plastics are harmful.” Basically, businesses give out the variety of plastic bottles but they are harmful for our environment. Speaking with Varnesha Webb a little after the presentation, she said “It was a lot of work to put forth into bringing a good presentation for Focus Frostburg.” Varnesha, who preferred to be called Nesha, also stated, “Melissa and I worked very hard and I am proud of our presentation. Melissa was a very good presenter and I had a good time with her!”

Although, the time was running a bit low, there were many good presentations that were involved with Focus Frostburg. The Lane Center Appalachian Station also gave out reusable friendly bags with people who wanted to take their food out. This was to lose the plastic bag idea, which can be in tied with the presentation given by Melissa and Varnesha. “I think that it was a good idea to do this for people who couldn’t take the time to learn more about Focus Frostburg,” Tiara Williams said outside of the Lane Center Appalachian Center. This would have to be agreeable.

Focus Frostburg turned out to be a success in the end. With the many presentations and the people who put forth effort to make it successful should definitely get their props. The hard work took time and dedication and it once again was a learning experience for many. There is always next year if you missed out! The annual Focus Frostburg for Earth Week will be a tradition here at Frostburg State University for a while with the success it progresses.

Focus Frostburg

Going Native:  "Sustainability in the Amazon” Presented by Mimi Hernandez
Written By Scott McDonough, ENGL 336

     Mimi Hernandez, Coordinator of the Appalachian Center for Ethnobotanical Studies at Frostburg State University, has gone native. On Wednesday, April 18, Mimi Hernandez was a featured speaker at Focus Frostburg, Frostburg State University’s all-day annual event of informative presentations to raise environmental sustainability and climate awareness during Earth Week. In her presentation, “Sustainability in the Amazon," Mrs. Hernandez shared the story of her recent trip to Ecuador to highlight the threat that modern mining operations have on the natural environment and the preservation of native cultures in the area. While the issue of environmental sustainability is certainly a heavy subject matter in itself, Mimi's presentation struck a more personal and powerful chord as her three week stay in Ecuador became her own journey of self-discovery and spiritual transformation.
     As Mimi Hernandez presented her collection of pictures from her trip to Ecuador with a group of fellow ethnobotanists, she made sure to emphasize one important detail summarizing the personal impact of her experience, "I cried a lot, I was the crier of the group." However, Mimi’s frequent bouts of crying were more than justified as she went on to describe her experiences living with various Amazonian tribes, revealing the close relationship with nature that the indigenous people of Ecuador struggle to preserve in the midst of modern times. As a perfect example of environmental sustainability, Mimi illustrated various ways the indigenous people live off the land including raising their own guinea pigs for meat and using the sap from certain trees for medicine. Next, Mimi told the story of Don Juan, a medicine man and shamanic healer of the Shuar people who is both revered and respected in his tribe. Mimi testified to Don Juan’s intensive knowledge of natural resources and their potential for use as food, medicine, and rites of passage for the Shuar people. Recalling how honored she was to witness the healing power of Don Juan first-hand when she took part in a “natem” healing ritual, Mimi shamelessly admitted to drinking a psychoactive Ayahuasca brew in an all-night hallucinatory ceremony. According to Mimi however, there is no stigma attached to the ingestion of psychoactive plants including Ayahuasca, San Pedro cactus, and Peyote in Amazonian cultures because “they are used as religious sacraments and for spiritual or healing purposes compared to their recreational use in modern countries like the US as a means of escapism.” Eventually, Mimi discussed how modern mining companies interested in precious metal prospects in the area threaten the indigenous people of Ecuador and their way of life to illustrate the importance of environmental sustainability and awareness. In a poignant point concluding her presentation, Mimi Hernandez revealed how even the great Don Juan bore unfortunate signs of modern times as she described one his outfits consisting of “a Nike shirt and money sign belt.”
     According to the Learning Green, Living Green website, Focus Frostburg is “FSU’s annual Day of Learning on sustainability and climate awareness that is open to FSU students, faculty, staff, and the community.” Fortunately, Sophomore Natalia Menocal, an elementary education major at FSU, learned a thing or two at Focus Frostburg as she sat in one of the steel chairs in the last row during Mimi Hernandez’s presentation and whispered, “I had to come here for one of my classes, but it’s actually really interesting, she (Hernandez) is making me realize that I have to be friendlier to the environment.” Certainly, Focus Frostburg aimed to send that environmentally-friendly message to many others, and with so much information provided throughout the length of the event including Mimi Hernandez’s presentation, “Sustainability in the Amazon,” Focus Frostburg was successful in doing just that.

Fight the Power by Using the Narrative

By Marcus Carter

Credit Dr. Kara Rogers Thomas's presentation

The presentation given by Dr. Kara Rogers Thomas, Assistant Professor of Sociology, titled “An Aggrieved Appalachia” was surprising. Although perfunctory introductions were given, the talk did not truly start until Roger Thomas spoke, “Appalachia has become a battlefield.” The excitement and tension that began to peculate made this presentation pop was not a product of the setting, a small brightly painted room with peach chairs or the action shots of activists contrasting the bleak environment of a freshly striped mountain top that. More than usual talks advocating for seemingly noble but deficient green images which aggrandize recycling, changing one light bulb, and reducing showers by minutes as simple solutions to complex global problems, this presentation was alive. The presentations’ animation was not due to liveliness, but emotion and controversy.

The presentation oozed with emotions from the speaker, the audience, and the slides. As Rogers Thomas bridled her obvious passions by sticking to her script, purposely, to avoid tainting the audience with biases, her restrained passion added tantalizing suspense that invigorated the annual earth day talk, as the audience wondered if composures would break, freeing and fueling the controversy.

Like the passion-infused atmosphere, the topic of the presentation was also unique. Instead of discussing contentious demonstrations for and against energy corporations, Rogers’ talk broached the tactics and counter- tactics employed by activists to engage by-standers in a conversation of the dangers of mountain top mining, strip mining and fracking and the responses or techniques used by corporations to combat protesters and woo on-lookers to their view point.

Yet, interactions between activists and corporation were more than a conversation, the confrontation of words between individual activists and large corporations was a fight, with which Rogers noted was specifically filled with emotionally charged phrasing and polarizing war and religious metaphors. Although protestors and corporations alike used every tactic, billboards, images, digital media, flyers, which they could to gain support through logic, statistics, sympathy, or shame, one tactic used by activists had roots in the Appalachian area as deep as the regions energy production. The particularly potent tactic, Rogers’ explained used the elements of orally passed folklore, the personal narrative. Rogers further explicated that the narrative creates an inclusiveness or identity, saying, “what is compelling in the use of the narrative as a tool is that it takes the statics, the quantitative and makes it qualitative; it makes it personal.” This personal approach has the ability to move others to action without seeming pretentious or preachy.

The personal narrative came in different forms from documentaries like John Fox’s Gasland, to the talks of grass roots citizens that have become renowned activists, West Virginia natives Julia Bonds and Maria Gunnoe, and through songs like My Water's On Fire Tonight (The Fracking Song). Rogers proceeded to give examples of the compelling personal narratives.

As the talk concluded, audience responses added levels of depth to the conversation. Audience members pointed out flaws in the use of narratives, highlighting that the stories can add inaccuracies into the debate. One instance, Dr. Mary Mumper, Associate chemistry Professor, pointed out methane does not dissolve in water as the Fracking song supposes and points out that the water catching fire was an atypical event. Dr. Mumper comment was not to champion the behavior of corporations because she agreed that the mountain top removal is an extremely dangerous and environmentally destabilizing approach, she simply wanted was to elucidate the facts.

The noted inconsistencies, possibly unintentional placed in narratives have a potential to get repeated and weaken protestors stories because corporations tend to focus on those details in attempts to discredit grass root activists’ stories. Rogers Thomas agreed saying, “that the hope is people will be pulled in and then they could do their own research.”

In the end, each complaint in the energy fight boils down to responsibility. The responsibility of corporations to pay for the damage they cause and to stop diverting attention to narratives lack of technical jargon and own up to the companies’ misdeeds. Although the water’s characteristic of catching on fire was an anomaly, the fracking companies tampering did cause the polluting of the town water in Wyoming and their tactics for energy production enriches them but leaves the town and regions increasing impoverished. Responsibility also rests on activists and newly persuaded by-standers to conduct research and investigate the details of their stories and not to proliferate untruths.

Responsibility does not make a catchy narrative nor does it entice people to get involved. Yet the only way to break free of energy dependencies and avoid drastically changing the earth would be to use both parts of humanity, both emotions and logic. By using the strategy that Rogers Thomas exhibited throughout her talk, invigorating passion with the restraint and planning of logic, only then can systemic change actually happen, changing perspectives, lifestyles, and futures.

My Water's On Fire Tonight (The Fracking Song)

"Sludge" - Documentary of a Disaster

Vast rivers, rolling mountains, and small towns, all reminiscent of Frostburg, MD, are shown throughout the documentary film "Sludge", shown on April 19th, 2012 at Frostburg State University's Focus Frostburg during  their movie day,  Focus Frostburg raises awareness on sustainability and climate awareness by holding events, speakers, and other social and media outlets for not only students attending Frostburg but the entire community.  Operating under the slogan "Learn-In for a Sustainable Future", the Focus Frostburg events will continue to run in the Lane Center until April 26th, 2012. Starting on April 18th, guest speakers, faculty, and other types of media began taking over the Lane Center in an attempt to grab the attention of anyone around and hopefully get some to focus on the changing climates, human environment interaction, and the ability to sustain the earth's valuable yet depleting resources.   "Sludge", the Appalshop film by Robert Salyer, focuses on a Kentucky coal waste disaster which affected Wolf Creek and Coldwater Fork, two parts of the Tug Fork River. In October 2000, a coal sludge pond broke and let 306 million gallons of sludge into the Tug Fork River tributaries. Continuing up the river, it eventually made its way to the Ohio River which was about 75 miles upstream. Salyer spent 4 years documenting the disaster which killed 1.6 million fish and contaminated water systems for over 25,000 people.  "Sludge" documents many of the local people from the Martin County community and offers their insights and feelings towards the Martin County Coal Company and their parent company Massey Energy.  "Something was done in '94 and  Massey thought it was ok. That's not a decision we  made. We submitted a plan and they looked at it and said 'That'll work'. Well, something happened again",  was a quote shown in which a gentleman was speaking to members of the community and trying to make sense of what had happened and why. The camera panned through the Martin Countians as their faces were struck cold as stone by hearing those words and realizing the disaster could have been prevented had the correct measures been taken by the coal company 6 years prior. In between interviews and testimonials, various illustrations and cartoons flow over the screen depicting the many different sides of what a disaster of this proportion can cause. Politicians furiously covering up spills, oil monsters, people crazed and running from chunks of coal, just about anything the most creative minds could come up with from the corruption and ecological catastrophes which they had based these representations. The corruption was  the result of cases involving the former director of the Natonal Mine Health and Safety Academy.  Much of the focus of investigations into the matter were by Jack Spadaro, the  former director of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy and main investigator of the Martin County spills. "The charge was pretty clear. We were to find out why it happened and not pull any punches, no matter how it looked for the agency", said Spadaro when speaking of his resignation from the investigation team after the Bush administration stepped in and took over the report he had been working on for months which was to be changed heavily as to not hurt the agency.  "When the official report was released, I was asked by the head of the agency to sign the report. I refused. I still refuse". Corruption in the investigation continued until Spadaro was eventually fired after investigators searched his office, confiscating computers, files, and anything they could label an incriminating document. He was eventually falsely accused of abusing authority and others about failure to follow procedures. Spadaro fought back against the false accusations and won few small battles. Robert Salyer  began his documentary on 3 days after the spill in Martin County and continued for 4 years in order to raise awareness of the dangers of human impact on the environment. His documentary was a gritty, well put together film which left the viewer almost angry at the coal company which had destroyed such valuable and irreplaceable ecological structures. Causing the most anger was the information that there are now 235 sludge ponds still remaining in the affected areas and they maintain the possibility to break into other water sources, just as in the Martin County spills 12 years ago. Phrased best from a Martin County local, "You look now and it looks just so pretty. It looks so nice. People think oh my goodness I just want to live there. But if they know really what happened here, then they think eh maybe I don't want to go there after all". For information on "Sludge" or the Martin County spill, including a video trailer for "Sludge" or to get the DVD for yourself, visit :


Focus Frostburg 2012

By Jenny Toke, ENGL 336.002


As part of 2012’s Earth week, FSU hosted a daylong session welcoming students from the university, local high schools, faculty, staff, and community members to learn more about Living Green during Focus Frostburg on Wednesday, April 18th. Numerous professors, faculty, and students presented lectures, artwork, and even made available Earth Week lunch specialties all held in Lane University Center from 9:00 in the morning until 5:00 in the evening.

            The room filled to the capacity of standing room only by the time 11:00 rolled around and Ben Norris, part of FSU’s department of Chemistry, was ready to present his lecture about biodegradable plastics. He began by exemplifying different plastics found in everyday-encountered items such as plastic cups and bags, coffee bags, and soda bottles. He initially introduced three plastics: Cellulose, used for the crinkly outside of the coffee bag; poly(ethylene terepthalate) (PET), the items you see with a recycling triangle and the number 1 such as a 20 oz soda bottle; and poly (lactic acid) (PLA). Cellulose has been around the longest, PET was used commercially around 1950, and PLA introduced in 1980 but not commercially popular until 2007-2008.

 “Plastics are moldable solids. Their ability to be moldable distinguishes them from solids such as rocks, for example,” Dr. Norris explains. Plastic comes from ancient Greek plastikos meaning “of molding.” Most plastics are therefore organic polymers. Polymers are high molecular weight compounds consisting of repeating units. Two classifications of polymers are natural and synthetic. Natural polymers are made by organisms such as DNA, proteins, starch, and cellulose. Synthetic polymers are manufactured by humans such as the plastics we are all familiar with. The natural polymer, cellulose, is made by plants who make glucose from the atmosphere. PLA is a synthetic polymer which is “actually not made from lactic, but it is made from a lactide monomer.” As said, cellulose is the oldest commercially used polymer, but it is a semi-synthetic polymer. “It comes from nature, but we don’t just take it from the plant, we put it through a lot of manufacturing.” Cellulose was discovered in 1838 and the structure was determined in 1920. Celluloid film is an example used early on but although it was easy and inexpensive to prepare, transparent, flexible, and resilient, the production generates strongly acidic waste and it is very flammable. PET film was also cheap and easy and stable in a variety of conditions BUT it is too strong and resilient. Dr. Norris explained that he used to work at a movie theatre and when there was the film jammed, “PET breaks the projector when there’s a jam.” Lastly, Dr. Norris explained that biodegradability occurs at faster rates depending on hydrophilicity, the rate of hydrolysis, and the toxicity of hydrolysis products. There is research being done to make products with copolymers such as self-dissolving stitches.


A second presentation was given at 1:00 pm by intern and FSU student Megan Spindler. She shared her learning experience from interning for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Some of the projects the CCAN has been involved in includes trying to stop building of DC’s keystone XL pipeline, Virginia’s offshore wind, and particularly Maryland’s hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” to drill shale gasses. To learn more about fracking, check out this website:

            Fracking has contaminated drinking water, caused damage to forest and stream systems, and caused damage to eco-tourism, “diminishing aesthetic quality to the county,” Megan explains, accounting towards 10% damage in Allegany and 13% in Garrett County. The biggest thing fracking has had an influence on is climate change. The climate tipping points are between the next 15-30 years.

            Governor O’Malley formed a bill to look into other ways to obtain these gases but he lacked the funding power in the end. In 2011 the formation of the Marcellus Shale Safe building Initiative study was ordered. There is already hydrolic fracking in PA and New York, but Maryland would have been the first to think ahead to create more safety features.

            CCAN chose a FSU student due to proximity and “the fact that we may be the future decision makers.” Megan applied for CCAN because she had limited knowledge of fracking, her interest in policy, her passion for sustainability, and her passion for Western Maryland—“I really do love this area,” she said. To do research she read a lot of papers, dove through websites, and met with a lot of lawmakers and others dealing with the issue. “I felt like a stalker sometimes but it had to be done.” “I don’t want to drive down 68 and see gas wells everywhere.”

            Positive aspects to her internship is that she helped raised awareness and she gained invaluable experience; “I would rather not have fracking at all, but making it safer is a good move, too.” To learn more about CCAN visit


Focus Frostburg

Focus Frostburg

By: Caitlin Megonigal

The week of April 16th is Earth Week. Earth week is a week where people all around the world come together in support for a sustainable and healthier Earth. At Frostburg State University, in celebration for Earth Week, the Universities Lane Center held Focus Frostburg on April 18th, 2012. Focus Frostburg consists of presentations done by both faculty and students at Frostburg State University to inform the public on sustainability and climate awareness. Also, in the Armah were posters done by students in support for Earth Day.

One presentation that was particularly interesting was done by the Campus Tree Advisory Committee. The Campus Tree Advisory Committee is currently working to become recognized as a Tree Campus USA organization by the Arbor Day Foundation. Tree Campus USA is an organization that promotes the planting of trees on campus. Mitch Hall a senior studying Ethnobotany, who is also the student representative for CTAC said that there are five things the CTAC has to do to become part of Tree Campus USA. These five things are service learning events, a campus tree campaign, dedicated expenditures, an Arbor Day event, and a committee. Also, Mitch said that the committee has applied for three grants in order to obtain money for tree planting.

The four speakers at the CTAC presentation were Mitch Hall, Laura Smith, Don Weston, and Larry Shockley. Mitch Hall, who did most of the speaking, was actually asked to be on the CTAC committee by Dr. Sunshine Brosi, faculty at Frostburg State University. “I got adopted into the program. I’m on the Frostburg City Urban Forestry Commission, so because of that and the fact that I am a student at FSU, Dr. Brosi asked me to be on the committee,” stated Mitch. Watching the presentation one could tell that Mitch is very passionate about the environment and making Frostburg State University a “greener” campus. “If you have ever seen an overhead shot of Atlanta Georgia you’ll know there is nothing that compares to it. There is no place that does a better job when it comes to canopy cover than Atlanta,” stated Mitch. Mitch hoped that one day Frostburg will be like that; but he says that the University still has a long way to go. The picture at the top is the satellite view of Atlanta, Georgia.

One of the five steps that the CTAC has to do to be recognized as a Tree Campus USA organization was to do service learning events. To fill this requirement the CTAC will be holding a tree planting event for the Day of Caring and Sharing on April 21, 2012. “Future service learning projects also will deal with getting students involved in tree planting on campus,” stated Mitch. The trees that the CTAC will plant are those that are 10-12 feet above ground, and that will mainly like the sidewalk. “It’s hard to say what kind of trees, without the money we don’t really know. But Downy Serviceberry would be nice,” said Mitch. Another one of the five steps included having a dedicated expenditures plan. “To become Tree Campus USA, we have to spend a certain amount of money on each student a year,” said Mitch. Mitch estimated that it was about $2 a year per person they would have to spend. The committee, which was the final requirement to become Tree Campus USA, consists of Dr. Sunshine Brosi, Dr. David Puthoff, Lawrence Gingerich, Liz McDowell, Greg Partsch and the student representative Mitch Hall.

Surprisingly though the presentation focused a lot on statistics and whether or not students thought that the University should plant more trees or not. Some statistics were quite surprising. According to the presentation approximately 95% of students at Frostburg State University grew up with shade trees in their yard or near where they lived. Also, 100% of the students said that there was room for more trees on campus. Mitch also discussed if the students felt they could study better near a tree and many of them agreed that they did.

The Campus Tree advisory committee won’t know if they have been accepted as a Tree Campus USA organization till the end of the semester. But until then they will continue to work hard to promote a green and sustainable Frostburg. Overall the group seemed very enthusiastic about their work and Mitch Hall even cracked a few jokes within presenting slides.

Spotlight on Focus Frostburg

It’s Earth Week here at Frostburg State University. Focus Frostburg took place on Wednesday, April 18th. “What is that?” asked many students. Teachers were asked to cancel classes that day for that event. Being so close to finals, very few did.

 Schedule of different events occurred at the Lane University Center between 9-5 on the 18th. Ranging from power point presentations to movies to posters, Focus Frostburg is putting it on for Earth Week.

Many presentations were a success and some not so much. But regardless, the presentations were filled to the point where there were only one or two seats left open.

Dr. Benjamin Norris of the FSU Dept. of Chemistry put on a presentation at 11:00 a.m. on the first floor of the Lane Center.  He discussed the history and science of plastics that are prepared from biodegradable resources.

Every time FSU is holding some kind of event they have small plastic cups that are known to be eco products. They are given out to guests to hold their beverages. “Spent some time to figure out what this is which led to me talking about bio plastics,” explained Dr. Norris.

 He then goes on into this whole chemistry discussion of what plastic is made out. Chemistry is not an easy subject for many people.  It made this whole discussion hard to follow and left feeling like someone just came out of a chemistry class. At the end, Dr. Norris asked, “Are there any questions?” There was silence. The audience was so dumbfounded making them all speechless.

An afternoon presentation by Jennifer Flinn discussed Sustainable Burials was way more interesting than the plastic talk. It was about a business that is not often thought about, the funeral business.

 Thousands of embalming fluid, steel, copper, and hard woods is used every year in the U.S. for funerals. Cremation is not must better. The amount of fossil fuel used in cremations in one year could let someone travel to the moon and back 84 times. Natural burial is an alternative method. The point is so everything is biodegradable. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust,” said Flinn.

The natural burial is green in more ways than one. It saves money for the family. Traditional funerals range from $6,000 to $20,000. Natural is less expensive and some of the money goes towards preserving a green space for the future. There are no exclusive natural burial sites in Maryland, but the closest one is located in Pittsburgh.

Sustainability in the Amazon

It’s Earth Week, and Frostburg State is doing its best to get students involved and caring. There were plenty of speakers today in Lane. One presentation at 4:00 in the Atkinson room, “Sustainability in the Amazon,” was given by Mimi Hernandez about her recent trip to Ecuador. Mimi teaches the Ethnobotony major at Frostburg. She stands in the front of the  darkened room beside a screen with a projector humming, ready to start. Lines of chairs hold students curious to hear what this is about. She starts off the presentation by saying, with a laugh, “I’m not really teaching anything, I’m just gonna show off a bunch of pictures.” She describes herself as a clinical herbalist by background and an ethnobotanist by profession. An ethnobotonist basically studies the relationships between plants and people, according to Mimi. She went on a three week trip to Ecuador in February. She reveals that part of her family is from Columbia, so it meant a lot to her to be going so close.
This trip was a “plant lover’s journey.” The group studied the way plants were used traditionally in the country, as well as how shamans continued to use them. The groups started in Quito (the capitol of Ecuador), and Mimi began showing us the beautiful pictures that represent her journey. One of the first photos was of a plant called rue, which is sacred to Mimi’s family. It is used to protect homes and cleanse negative energy. It is also important to European culture, where it was used to ward off the evil eye. In herbalism, it rue is used as an eyewash for infection and irritation. Mimi talked about how much it meant to her to start her journey of transformation by seeing this plant as soon as she stepped out of her door on the first morning. She showed pictures of a church that were built by Spanish conquerors from ancient civilizations’ sacred sites; the church had animals carved into the stone to better convert the masses.  She had striking pictures of an ethnobotanical garden. Their group was the first to perform a ceremony in the gardens, to honor the plants (the trip involved a lot of ceremonies, praying, and emotion; Mimi admits to being the “crier” of the group).
Mimi's photo of rue

Showing photos of lush green mountains near Amazonia, she talks about the mining that is taking place near there. The country’s government has made contracts with the Chinese and Canadian governments to mine for gold, silver, copper, etc. The locals are very upset, Mimi informs. She said she’d never seen so many men crying.
Mimi talks about Rosemary Gladstar, who was on the trip. “If you don’t know who she is, definitely look her up if you have any interest in ethnobotony,” she says. She is the “godmother of American herbalists,” and founded Traditional Medicinal. Mimi also talks a great deal about a healer they spent time with, Don Juan. She shows pictures of sites made by the ancient Canarians. She even shows a photo of guinea pigs in a pen that the ancient civilization, and the people who live there today, eat (the audience gasped in horror, some envisioning their own pet guinea pigs).
Mimi’s presentation covered such a vast majority of information, it was amazing. Cecylia Morrison, a freshman secondary education major from Frederick, MD, said, “I was not expecting to learn so much tradition of these cultures. I liked learning about all of the different spiritual and medicinal uses for local plants and herbs.” It is these types of activities that Frostburg gains so much from – knowledge, culture, a different view of things we tend to never notice, like plants. Mimi Hernandez seeks to change that, to show people that plant life deserves respect. That is what Earth Day is about.

For more information, go to

Green After Death

By Michelle Queen
      Looking at the photo to the left, what place would you think that is a picture of? A forest? A park? None of the above.

Attending the Focus Frostburg event, Forever Green: Sustainable Burials, hosted by Dr. Flinn of the psychology department, the tiny but packed conference room of students learned about "green burials." Yes, the picture above is example of an actual green cemetery, not the first image that pops up when thinking of a cemetery huh? And this is nothing new, "just an old idea in new packaging," states Dr. Flinn. What it takes to be considered buried naturally is all plant-based natural materials: meaning biodegradable wood/wicker/pod caskets and a natural sort of embalming process where the body is frozen. Sustainable burials sites or preserves also have natural grave markers like rocks or trees, and the visiting family is given a GPS to locate the burial site while walking through a scenic "forest" trail. The journey to locate the site is often symbolic and reflective.

"We don't usually think about being green after we're gone," stated Dr. Flinn commanding the slideshow, and she showed the audience the direct effect of the unconscious environmental costs of traditional burials and even cremations. According to her research, annually when people are buried 827,600 gallons of embalming fluid seeps into the ground along with 100,000 tons of steel, 5.4 million pounds of copper casket lining, and 30 million feet of hard wood! So, cremations are better for the environment right? Wrong. 30-40% of people choose the cremation route, but little do they know that it often creates airborne toxins and enough fossil fuel in a year to "travel to the moon 84 times and back," stated Dr. Flinn. Plus financially traditional burials cost 6,000 to 20,000 dollars, while natural burials cost much less.

The green burial movement began in the U.K with the Carlisle Cemetery in 1993. It was the first cemetery solely dedicated to natural green burials and now there are over 200 in the U.K.  The first site in the U.S was Ramsey Creek Preserve in North Carolina, opening in 1996. There is actually a rating system (the leaf scale) which approves which sites are considered a green burial environment. 1 leaf is considered hybrid: basically a regular cemetery with a green section. 2 leaf is an all natural burial site with natural plant derived materials. 3 leaf is the same as the 2 leaf, but these sites are protected under preservation laws never to be torn down. So far in the U.S there are only 11 states with natural burial sites, the closest is Penn Forest Natural Burial Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

The biggest problems people think of with natural burials is the ceremony not being as special and in basic terms, the smell. Natural burial site ceremonies are generally the same as traditional ceremonies, with all decisions up to the family, and it is still possible to view the body. The smell factor, "we've all walked through wooded areas and have we ever really smelled any decomposing animals," Dr. Flinn stated sarcastically. When a person is buried in a natural cemetery, they are buried deep enough so it will not smell bad and shallow enough so the decomposition process can take place. During a clip shown from the Penn Forest Natural Burial Park (, a woman stated "someday I'll be a part of all this," she said while the camera panned to the flora surrounding her. That feeling resonates, the feeling of giving even after you are gone.

If you want to learn even more about green burials visit

Leaving no Trace...Needs to be done

John T. Baxter educates the students on the importance of a healthy environment.
April 18, 2012, a day Frostburg State brings environmental awareness to the attention of the students.    The environment deserves attention and care considering every human being lives in it his or her whole life.  To help preserve the well-being of the earth John T. Baxter and Natalia Buta gave a lecture on methods to help save the Earth when partaking in outdoor recreational activities so people in the future can have a healthy place to live.  The presentation was given in the Lane center at Frostburg’s Lane center.  The audience was not a very big one, but it only takes one person to make a difference in the world.  Mr. Baxter started the lecture by describing the principles necessary to keep outdoor activities fun and “green.” An example of the “leave no trace” concept is when going camping, if near a river, lake, or stream, try to set up camp at least two hundred feet away.  With this precautionary measure, outdoorsman and women can prevent pollution and disruption of the water life ecosystem by keeping trash and anything else unnatural out of water.  Mr. Baxter continued with explaining how to leave “no trace” with methods such as using camp stoves instead of camp fires, or how people should not peel bark to gather wood, basically Mr. Baxter was saying let nature be.    After discussing ways to minimize, damage to Earth Mr. Baxter read scenarios to the students that could happen when camping.  One scenario was what does an individual do when seeing someone set up a tent right beside a river opposed to the suggested two hundred feet, should you tell him or her to move?  There is no right or wrong answer; it is an ethical choice because none of the methods is laws, just merely suggestions.  The fact that there is no laws means there is no way to stop people from continuing to destroy the Earth when they are using the outside as recreation.  “Protecting the environment is important because not just one person is affected; it has an impact on everyone.” Junior psychology major Colleen Tawes explains the importance of being “green.”  After the discussion and scenarios, Ms. Buta wanted to hear thoughts and suggestions felt now that they had heard the principles and concepts of “leave no trace.” The feedback was only heard from about two students but they both shared an obvious love for nature.   Another student who is a senior wildlife and fisheries major named Jordan says, “I’m glad I came to this. It is important for future generations.”   Aly Allen a sophomore psychology major had a similar feeling about the topic saying, “This kind of information is going to help future generations.”     
Yes we all should be more “green” and help protect Earth but with no laws and just lectures to guide outdoor recreational activities, is there going to be enough force to give the current generation enough awareness to prevent too much damage on earth? Hopefully so, our atmosphere may depend on it.  If more people start to care about what they leave behind when being outside the future generation will be able to live in a world that is “green and clean!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Focus Frostburg: Economic Botany Presentations

Focus Frostburg: Economic Botany Presentations
By: Megan Collins 

            When attending Focus Frostburg, there are several sections of the event that could be attended throughout the day. The event took place April 18th 2012 and lasted from 9:00am till 5:00pm. Particularly Economic Botany Presentations, located in Lane Center 111, stood out and the presentations were split into two groups. The first was called ‘Gardening’ and the second was called ‘Sustainability’. Alas not many people showed up to the event. Each slide was an array of beautiful bright colors such as orange which ironically mirrored the orange that decorated the seats and the left wall of the room.  
            Gardening featured Suzy Snow, MarryAnna Cole, and Brody McAllister. Their presentation was on local produce and their research which shows that though many people are interested in the idea they just do not know where it is or do not have the money. Their main focus on research was Garret County, Allegany County, and Washington County and their rationale for surveys was to gain a broader understanding of the customer food base. The presentation also touched on the positives of choosing local produce instead of the produce from across the globe, or from unknown origin, such as its fresher, it can lower your carbon footprint, and it is already in the community, so it is close by and the customers can support their own community.  When asked why they chose to do the presentation on local produce instead of something else, like different energy sources and how the campus could help integrate those sources to good use Susan admitted she had to think a moment as to why they chose this in particular. Susan Snow is a junior with a major in Ethnobotany from Frostburg, Maryland. After giving it good thought she said, “I love food, and I love the farmers market so I wonder why when we are surrounded by tons of farms why is it so hard to find. In Garret County, you can find about 8 farms but University of Maryland Extension Office has about 40 listed and they told me to destroy the list of 40 farms for the project when we were done with it.” She did not know why so it left only speculation as to why they would want the list destroyed, perhaps for privacies sake.  
Sustainability featured Morgan Bauer, Ben Brown, and Alec Fisher. Their presentation was on the sustainability on Frostburg State University’s campus. They namely focused on how many people, both students and faculty, were interested in sustainability and how many of them actually took that interest to the next level and participated on making things better by recycling, planting trees, and using public transportation. The numbers sadly decreased. Many were interested, but it was cut almost in have when they got to how many actually were engaged. Morgan Bauer is a junior with a major in Ethnobotany and minors in Biology, Forestry Ministration, and Cultural Anthropology from Rockville, Maryland.  When asked about why they chose to do sustainability Morgan said, “I personally make a lot of noise about issues I have on campus. I did need the information to back it up. I’m interested to make the campus attractive to perspective students.” He then followed up with, “this was the first thing I needed to do so that I could give myself a direction to move in,” when asked about what would be the first thing he would do, he said it would be to try to implement more student involvement.
When coming from a student and audience perspective the presentation was interesting and had a lot of useful information. Megan Fisher a junior with a major in Interpretive Biology and Natural History from Myersville, Maryland says, “I learned that our campus is trying to find ways to implement more sustainability ideas, but is having a hard time actually following through with it. Like with recycling, there are supposed to be recycling bins in every academic building, and in every dorm there are supposed to be bins on each floor, but not all those places have the required bins. If you look at what is in lane they do not have glass recycling, all they have is paper, cans, and regular trash, which creates a bit of a problem with what to do with the glass. I think they need to work on getting the students more involved on campus because some of the research that they did shows that the students are interested in helping but they just aren’t implementing it. So if they had more opportunities, places, and more reason to be involved, then they would be more likely to do it. ” When asked if she would recommend others to see the presentation and event she said, “Yeah, there is actually a lot of information that I learned that I did not know before, like where I can find local produce for a lot cheaper than in chain stores and they are much better quality. I also now have sites that I can go to for local produce for when I move of campus next semester.”

USDA and Local Harvest
Allegany farmers markets
Garret CSA, Farmers Market
Maryland’s Best Farms

Frostburg Focus- A student presentation

Focus Frostburg 2012
by Kate Molander

            Focus Frostburg was an event held on April 18th at Frostburg State University by FSU’s Learning Green, Living Green Committee. Megan Spindler, a junior wildlife major and FSU was the speaker for the “Out of the Classroom, Into the Field: Interning for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network.” Megan Spindler interned at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN) which works to protect the environment and raise awareness in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington D.C. According to the Focus Frostburg pamphlet, CCAN is “the first grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to fighting global warming.”
            The key message of Spindler’s presentation was the risks of Hydraulic Fracturing. Hydraulic Fracturing is a mining technique that drills holes up to 10,000 feet and brings up gases and slick-water. The slick-water is then stored in lake sized holes in the ground (with or without linings) which leads to toxins easily leaking into the soil. “Maryland is concerned that ‘fracking’ could contaminate drinking water and cause damage to eco tourism,” says Spindler, “CCAN is dedicated solving this problems.”
            In 2011, CCAN worked to pass a bill that would halt the permit application process until the impacts of fracking were studied and understood. Unfortunately, the bill did not make it through the committees and was not passed. Spindler states, “Chesapeake and I would like to see fracking completely stop.”
            Spindler got involved in CCAN through an internship that was introduced to her by her teacher. After some thought, Spindler decided to apply to the internship and was soon busy with the work she was given to complete. CCAN looked for an FSU student to fill the internship position because they would be closer to the area. “We are the ones that are here and may be making the future decisions for this place,” says Spindler. Her responsibilities were researching backgrounds on the issues and lawmakers as well as taking care of communication through blogs, student letters, letters to the editor, as well as phone banking (also known as phone soliciting). “Yes, I was that person interrupting everybody’s dinner” she adds with an apologetic sigh. Spindler also worked on many fact sheets that were presented to the senators during lobbying. Although it was a lot of work, Spindler says she learned a lot and enjoyed her time at the internship. This was, however, her last year, so anyone interesting in participating in the internship in the following semesters should visit
            Although CCAN has been unable to pass the bills they have sent to congress, they have not given up and will continue to try until the bills are passed and more awareness on these environmental issues has been raised. If you would like even more information on how to help with the environmental law side of the issue, visit The best way to help our environment and save the future of the world is to get involved and keep raising awareness. 

Respect Your Sisters!

One day out of the year, many people take the time to celebrate our wonderful planet by observing Earth Day. However, some honor Mother Nature and her many children year-round. Frostburg State University has shown much dedication to environmental sustainability and this week the campus exhibited these efforts with Focus Frostburg. The event, held on April 18, gave students, faculty members, and the community a chance to learn about climate change and what can be done to protect our natural world. Many of the presentations were lecture-style and held in the Lane University Center. However, there was also an opportunity for more visual and artistic learners to gain environmental knowledge.

As much as we celebrate Mother Nature through these sustainability events, we must also honor our “siblings” of the Earth. This is the concept of the visual art display, Our Sisters the Trees. Coordinated by FSU visual arts professor, Susan Dodge, and created by students, the outdoor artwork is set up to “convey a sense of respect for nature and the environment”. The students designed and constructed sculptures on the various trees around campus. These sculptures are made of various materials and illustrate the importance of nature, as well as ways in which we can protect the environment.

Below are just a few of the beautiful and meaningful works of art:

These sculptures, adding a burst of color and texture to the trees of campus, definitely catch the eyes of FSU students as they travel back and forth between classes. When asked what single word comes to mind, several students had very interesting responses about the art projects. Tikki Harding, a junior liberal studies major from Frostburg, commented on a particularly colorful tree, pictured left in the line-up. “RNA. It illustrates sustainability because RNA can rebuild from new proteins which is like when people can grow a tree from their food, like an apple!” She explained how the bubbles on the tree resembled RNA and that this is an example of sustainability because we should reuse the seeds from our food in order to grow more. “Recycle.” This was the word spoken by Shayna Kramer, a junior communication studies major from Bowie, Maryland, when she saw the tree-art pictured in the center. She clarified, “We should and need to recycle to help the environment.” The last tree, viewed by Veronica Morris, a freshman elementary education major from Hagerstown, Maryland, reacted with the word “shield” when she saw the tree pictured in the right of the array. “To me it seems like a superhero trying to save the environment.”

Rebuilding, recycling, saving. These are all words that are definitely relevant when discussing environmental sustainability. Our Sister the Trees brings an appealing art exhibit to campus while evoking thought and awareness. For those of you who are interesting in the protection of nature, but unenthusiastic about learning through a lecture, this is the perfect exhibit! If you would like to see these lovely sculptures, they are located in the area surrounding Echo Circle (between the library and Dunkle Hall). Also, if you are interested in the FSU visual arts department, you can visit their website at the following link:

Sustainability Practices in Recreation and Parks Management

On Wednesday, April 17 Assistant Professor, Natalia Buta presented: Sustainability Practices in Recreation and Parks Management in room 108, Lane University Center. The presentation is is part of the annual Focus Frostburg, which informs people about sustainability and climate awareness. 
Buta started her presentation by explaining to the crowd of fifteen people how individuals  in Recreation and Parks Management tries to protect the environment. The slideshow started off by informing people reasons why they should consider building with sustainability. Coming up across the black background slideshow, the words carbon reduction, improve air quality, and global warming were all important reasons why such practices should be considered.  
“The local government emphasizes the need to build with sustainability to think with air environment in mind,” Buta stated.
Most recreation facilities today are starting to think about how they can build their facility with trying to sustain the environment. A certification called LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) is given to facilities who take into consideration the environment the most. Buta explained to the crowd that the LEED certification is broken down into four different point systems. The certified certification is 26-32 points, silver certification is 33-36 points, gold certification is 39-51 points,  and platinum is 52 or more points. LEED certification looks for certain requirements before awarding their certificates to facilities. Buta explained that they look for sustainable site planning, water efficiency, energy efficiency, conservation of materials and resources, indoor environmental quality, and innovations in operations & maintenance. Buta believes that facilities need to use green cleaning products, start recycling programs, and conserve energy. 
After asking people in the audience how many of them recycled, about six out of fifteen people raised their hand. Buta feels that many people in this area do not recycle because there is no one coming to people’s door directly to pick up the recycled items. “More people would recycle if their was a program in place,” stated Buta.
Next, Buta presented a new recreation facility being built in Montgomery County, Maryland that  she recently visited called White Oak Recreation Center. When the picture of the facility came up  on the screen, all fifteen students in the audience were amazed with the way the building looked. A wide building with many glass windows and dark green outlining the building is what had the audience glued to the screen, because of how great the facility looked. 
White Oak was awarded the silver certification from LEED, because of how much they took the environment into consideration. Buta started to show different images of the building and how each is considered to be environmentally friendly. 
When describing one of the rooms in the recreation facility, Buta gets extremely excited to talk about which room was her favorite. The room is surrounded with all glass windows for people to look out of and has sensor lights installed in the ceiling. When her tour guide was showing her around the building, he tried to show how the sensor lights work. He started to jump up and down waving his hands trying to get the lights to turn on. As Buta started to describe her story of being at the facility during the presentation, she started to jump up and down waving her hands in the air to imitate how her guide was on the tour.  
After going over the whole presentation and seeing how nicely the building was being put together, Buta wanted to know how much money people thought it costed to build the facility? Some audience members shouted out a couple million dollars, while others sat and waited for answers. Buta stated, “It costed eighteen million dollars to build, but in a long term they would be saving money.”

Focus Frostburg showcases the environmental sustainability effort on Frostburg campus

by Shawn Pillai

Wednesday, April 18th marks an important day for campus-wide education on environmental sustainability at Frostburg State University. Presentations ranging from topics such as sustainable energy systems, biodegradable plastics, and economic botany ran from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm in the Lane Center.

On the first floor, dozens of trifold poster board presentations were erected throughout the gymnasium. “I do my best to recycle,” states Ben Phillips, an Information Technology senior from Fork, Maryland. “It’s important for all students, including myself, to attend these lectures to further our knowledge on sustainability.” Ben was examining a counter-expose on Climate Gate, the supposed scandal involving hackers gaining access to the emails of scientists from universities across the globe allegedly fudging global warming data to make it seem more problematic. It is now widely accepted that certain lines in the emails were picked and taken entirely out of context.

Anne Gingerich, a resident of Frostburg and volunteer at the event points out a few interesting exhibits at the function. “A lot of these presentations are extremely up to date,” claims Anne. “The new land grab is really gaining attention lately.” As the polar ice caps melt, new land is being made available for mining. Global companies are scrambling to snatch up the mineral-rich land for harvest. “Of course big business will acknowledge global warming when there’s money to be made from it,” Anne asserts.

Other exhibits deal with more sensitive topics. One presentation focusing on the use of depleted uranium in Iraq had a particularly strong emotional effect on most in attendance. “People see pictures and they tend to pause and really take it in, really think about what we’re doing to our environment and to our fellow human beings.” The presentation featured a slide of photographs involving children in Iraq being born with severe deformities due to radiation poisoning.

Lawrence Gingerich, Safety and Sustainability Coordinator at FSU, expresses satisfaction over the attention that the event has received. His presentation, titled FSU Student Energy Audit, focused on finding problematic areas of energy “leakage” in buildings on campus. “We’re trying to cut down on energy consumption campus-wide. In a nutshell, we analyze how much energy each building consumes and figure out where we can cut back.”

Overall, Mr. Gingerich is happy with student turnout at Focus Frostburg. “The earlier presentations saw a decline in attendance because of the average students’ dislike for mornings.” He professes hope for campus-wide environmental education and awareness. “I’ve been here two years and have witnessed an increase in the amount of care students show toward making our world more sustainable.”

“Politically, our voices are heard with our votes.” Lawrence stresses the need for citizens to unite with new environmental ideals and “do all they can to collectively help reduce the stress we impose on our world.” Mr. Gingerich emphasizes the need for increased environmental education among the older population. “The baby boomers are numerous. We’ve got to be willing to scale back our arguments a bit. If you’re new to the topic, it’s quite hard to wrap your mind around things like global warming.”

Sustainable Living

This time of year the green trees of Frostburg bare a new type of place in campus life. They become the home of art. Art that is prepared for the day Frostburg students know as FOCUS FROSTBURG. FOCUS FROSTBURG is brought to the campus by the Sustainability Initiative entitled Learning Green, Living Green (LGLG). The mission of LGLG is to develop and coordinate programs and projects that create sustainable solutions to environmental, social, and economic needs. This is where FOCUS FROSTBURG comes in. All day today the lane center has played host to dozens of teachers who presented on ways to live a sustainable lifestyle. Among these presenters was Hank Bullamore from the Geography Dept.
                Dr. Henry W. Bullamore is a Geography teacher here at Frostburg State University. He has a Ph.D in Geography from the University of Iowa and teaches courses here ranging from Human Geography to Tourism Planning. Also known as Hank, Dr. Bullamore gave a great presentation today at 1pm on Sustainable Living entitled “THE QUEST FOR SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITITES” The purpose of his presentation was to show that per capita people in the city use less pollution then those in the suburbs. He showed this by first examining the differences between the suburbs and cites, then by showing the difference between America, a more suburban country, and Japan, a more city orientated country. Dr. Bullamore began the presentation saying “Today we are a suburban nation.” He then went on to say “A lot of changes have come about. The typical American family has gotten smaller, but the land needed has gotten larger.” He then jumped right into what a house was for people today. How it wasn’t just a place to lay your head, but that when looking for a house people were more likely to look for Quality Schools, Safety, Job Opportunities, and that small town feel. In the suburbs more people feel like they achieve this goal. Even if the people have to drive to an hour both ways they feel like it is better for the family. “90% of American people commute to work alone” He said. He then went on to say how that is where a lot of pollution came from. This was compared to people who live in cities in old home rebuilding their communities, who take transit to work filled with other city people, or who lived close enough to work that they worked.
“Reducing your Carbon footprint” flashed on the screen and the ways to do so also appeared. It said “Smaller exisiting homes, attached homes (i.e apartments, townhomes), and less car usage.”   Dr. Bullamore then went on to talk about Smart Growth and a program downtown Cumberland initiated that worked out really well for the community. This program took owners of small business, and senior citizens and moved them into freshly renovated homes. This way small business owners could have their shop on the first floor, home on the second floor, a grocery store about a mile away, and could also watch their children play from their windows.
Lastly he talked about Japan, and how because they have such a high density they have little pollution. The homes in Japan are so close to the downtown area that most people don’t even have cars. “You have to prove that you have a parking space off of the street just for yourself in order to even get a car.” Dr. Bullamore told the audience. Because the homes are so close knit they have thriving retail in the neighborhood, it takes 15-20 minutes to walk to downtown, or you can take transit and get their in ten minutes.
Dr. Bullamore concluded his presentation with a question, he asked “Who uses more pollution, Someone who live in an apt in NYC or Someone who lives on 5 acres of land in Garrett County?”